Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Centre have published a study in the American Journal of Stem Cells which links the age, lifestyle and environment of fathers to disabilities and birth defects in babies. The disabilities and birth defects are as a result of epigenetic alterations that can affect multiple generations. The stem cell research is carried out as part of a type of study called epigenetics.

Factors such as alcohol consumption, diet and psychological environment can permanently alter; organ structure, cellular response and gene expression. This research has broken new ground for epigenetics as beforehand it was understood that the mother’s age, lifestyle and environment could affect a babies development, however this research proves that both parents can have an impact on their baby’s development.

The study notes:

  • Advanced age of a father is correlated with elevated rates of schizophrenia, autism, and disabilities in his children;
  • A limited diet during a father’s pre-adolescence has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular death in his children and grandchildren;
  • Paternal obesity is linked to enlarged fat cells, changes in metabolic regulation, diabetes, obesity and development of brain cancer;
  • Psychosocial stress on the father is linked to defective behavioural traits in his offspring; and
  • Paternal alcohol use leads to decreased new-born birth weight, marked reduction in overall brain size and impaired cognitive function.

Genesis Research Trust have researchers examining stem cells using epigenetics. Stem cell research has the potential to impact not just one disease, but several. According to the research teams studying these diseases; diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disease, burn victims, blood diseases, leukaemia, and spinal injuries could all benefit from the research.

By studying this area of medical science Genesis Research Trust aims to help find causes and cures for conditions affecting the health of women and babies.

You can find the original research here

You can read more about our research on fetal programming and stem cells, you can also check the profiles of our researchers who are specialists in this field: Veronique Azuara and Wei Cui.


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